It’s now mid-April, and unless you’ve been on vacation in a remote part of the country (like this Portland couple), it’s likely that you are quite familiar now with the phrase “social distancing.” The CDC defines “social distancing” as “keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home.” The idea is to prevent, or at least to slow, the spread and transmission of COVID-19 from one person to another. For the one who perceives himself or herself as healthy, it is to keep from getting what another person has. For the one who believes himself or herself to be sick, and a danger to another person, it is a way to keep from transmitting the virus to the other person and living with the guilt and shame of making an otherwise-healthy person sick.
So here’s the question…..are you social distancing Jesus?
If you truly understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you understand the cost of sin and the reality of our need for forgiveness in Christ. In fact, whether or not you’ve ever heard of the “Roman Road,” you've heard the truths presented in that classic explanation of the Gospel, which begins with the human problem, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). You’ve also come to know that the gift of God is forgiveness from that sin, and an eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). You’re a sinner….going to Jesus is the cure. That’s what you embraced as the Truth when you chose to give your life to Jesus. So when you sin, your longing for restored fellowship with God drives you to Jesus and his cross for forgiveness and restoration.
For others of you, you've heard the same Gospel truths, acknowledged that you "believe" it, but nevertheless, you're still “social-distancing” Jesus.
What do you mean? How does one do that?
Well, let me ask you this….when you sin, are you driven to immediately confess that before God, seek correction and help through the Scriptures, and do what Peter did in John 21:7 and rush to be with Jesus? Do you recognize yourself as sick and see Jesus as the Healer, who is both immune to your sickness and able to restore you? OR…does shame and guilt and pride in being seen as “sick” keep you from Him? Do you do what Peter did in Luke 5:8 and push him away? Do you believe the lies and accusations from the Devil that you’re beyond forgiveness, that you’re too sick for Jesus to heal you, that He wouldn’t want to be close to someone like you because you’re carrying a deadly virus? Are you social distancing Jesus because of fear or shame or guilt?
My dad used to write in every Bible he gave me, D.L. Moody’s famous quote, “this Book will keep you from sin; sin will keep you from this Book.” And you can see why! The Bible says in 1 John 1:9 that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Jesus wants us to come to him…not after we’ve cleaned ourselves up, but so that he can cleanse us. In fact, Romans 5:8 makes clear that Christ came to die for us, “while we were yet sinners.” That’s called grace and mercy….and Jesus did it for you, not after you did enough good to make up for the bad (by the way, Eph. 2:8-9 say you’ll never reach that), and not after you cleaned yourself up and spent enough time in self-quarantine. Out of His love for you….He came “while we were yet sinners.”
Jesus hasn’t social-distanced you.
If you value your relationship with him, and desire his fellowship…don’t social distance him.